Oi Rio Pro, Day one: “Kelly Slater beats Griffin and Conner in two-foot waves, looks loose and jerky!”

And title contenders John John Florence and Italo Ferreira waltz through seeding round heats…

Shameful admission for a surf writer but like you, like Kelly Slater, I’d paid scant attention to pro surfing in Brazil over the years. Watched John John take a cleaver to close-outs one year and that’s about it.

Something changed last year and Brazil became compelling. I think context and contrast.

Founders Cup at Kelly’s wave pool put beachbreak events in the cross-hairs. The august Derek Rielly predicted their imminent demise. Somehow in that context, and in immediate contrast Saquarema looked spicy and a nutty little challenge for the top 34.

Brazil sought to justify itself, looked, maybe for the first time…….relevant.

That was then. The context for this year is a red hot JJF coming off another event at Margarets where he cleaned the reef with his opponents and a Brazilian storm that can’t quite seem to keep pace with him.

Gabe’s Title defence is looking very Joel Parkinson 2013, not in the sense that Medina is closer to the end of his career than the beginning like Joel was, in the sense he came out of the blocks on the Gold Coast looking clearly like the best surfer on Tour but bad luck, close calls, emotional over-reactions are slowly dragging him off the pace.

Filipe was humiliated by a local wildcard. Medina was a day late and a dollar short at the Box. Only Italo looked the goods and John destroyed him, as my ten-year-old boyo would say.

Gabe’s Title defence is looking very Joel Parkinson 2013, not in the sense that Medina is closer to the end of his career than the beginning like Joel was, in the sense he came out of the blocks on the Gold Coast looking clearly like the best surfer on Tour but bad luck, close calls, emotional over-reactions are slowly dragging him off the pace.

Wobbly lefts were breaking adjacent to the rock outcrop at Itauna, one end of the bay at Saquarema. Fresh combinations were in the commentary booth. Pottz and Kaipo, pretty good. Brad Bricknell and Barton, also solid. Ronnie Blakey got the bye. Hard work day for them.

No matter how they spin it WSL can’t make the Seeding Round and the subsequent Elimination Round seem like anything more than a dull trials event for the main circus. It do drag on.

Search the heat analyser for an excellent score and you’ll search in vain. Let me save you picking the needle out of the haystack. Yago Dora was easily best guy out there today and bagged a nine, the sole excellent wave ridden today, for a punchy little left that he sliced and diced into little pieces.

Are judges going to restore the strict scale after dropping their bundle in Bali? There are good signs to hope so.

Ace Buchan expressed a dissenting opinion in a guest stint in the booth. He was very good btw.

“It’s no secret,” he said, “the surfers all think the scale is a bit low”. He found it “hard to digest” the world’s best surfers could barely post an excellent score in a full day of surfing. Judges wanted more from surfers, he was happy with that.

But when the format doesn’t require it, why would they?

A pair of fives was enough for most heats. Italo could make a claim to be under-scored after loose and inverted surfing. John John looked smooth, controlled, unhurried, calm, composed… take your pick of those adjectives. His surfing stood out for it’s lack of inter-turn hustle. One perfectly controlled rotation on his forehand, one or two lefts ridden at a steady pace with big turns. Putting Italo and John next to each other reinforced a common feature of their surfing: no roundhouse cutbacks. Not that the wiggy little beachbreaks needed it but have you noticed?

Kelly’s almost the last Mohican as far as the classic cutback goes.

I lost the feed on the WSL site, went along with a couple of thousand of my closest buddies to throw angry emojis on Facey to catch Slater’s heat. In between the action I was reading up on the disappearance of Malaysian airlines MH370. Sometime around one am it just dropped off the face of the earth.

Suddenly, the Facey feed dropped out, WSL feed gone. Spooky. What a way for Slater to go out: suddenly evaporated in broad daylight in front of thousands of fans at his favourite stop on Tour.

I missed the Slater heat. I can report after watching on heat analyser that as much as JJF was calm and composed Slater was in mood to lay down some electrifying boogie. He caught 11 waves, hustled and hassled, looked loose and jerky. Stole the heat on the buzzer with a fiver.

To answer the original question: How would Brazil shape up this year following on from Margaret River instead of Surf Ranch?

Don’t shoot the messenger but, how to be diplomatic, as dull as dishwater.

Oh yeah, Adriano came back and put Kolohe into the elimination Rd.

I missed the gals but assumed they got the best waves of the day, what a reversal of fortune!

Oi Rio Pro Women’s Seeding Round (Round 1) Results:
Heat 1: Caroline Marks (USA) 8.90 DEF. Macy Callaghan (AUS) 8.10, Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 6.17
Heat 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) 15.50 DEF. Keely Andrew (AUS) 12.23, Johanne Defay (FRA) 10.20
Heat 3: Coco Ho (HAW) 11.60 DEF. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 10.00, Taina Hinckel (BRA) 8.63
Heat 4: Lakey Peterson (USA) 12.83 DEF. Paige Hareb (NZL) 8.87, Brisa Hennessy (CRI) 6.37
Heat 5: Silvana Lima (BRA) 13.20 DEF. Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 13.10, Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 9.93
Heat 6: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 14.77 DEF. Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 12.40, Malia Manuel (HAW) 10.00

Oi Rio Pro Women’s Elimination Round (Round 2) Matchups:
Heat 1: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) vs. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) vs. Taina Hinckel (BRA)
Heat 2: Malia Manuel (HAW) vs. Brisa Hennessy (CRI) vs. Johanne Defay (FRA)

Oi Rio Pro Men’s Seeding Round (Round 1) Results:
Heat 1: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 12.17 DEF. Jadson Andre (BRA) 10.60, Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 7.83
Heat 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 12.10 DEF. Soli Bailey (AUS) 8.40, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 6.93 | Heat 3: Yago Dora (BRA) 16.33 DEF. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 11.27, Kolohe Andino (USA) 11.16
Heat 4: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 13.97 DEF. Frederico Morais (PRT) 9.60, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 9.30
Heat 5: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 12.17 DEF. Deivid Silva (BRA) 11.07, Mateus Herdy (BRA)
Heat 6: John John Florence (HAW) 13.67 DEF. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 10.53, Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 9.60
Heat 7: Willian Cardoso (BRA) 10.47 DEF. Ricardo Christie (NZL) 9.00, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 6.30
Heat 8: Julian Wilson (AUS) 12.67 DEF. Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 9.06, Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 6.00
Heat 9: Kelly Slater (USA) 10.87 DEF. Griffin Colapinto (USA) 10.80, Conner Coffin (USA) 9.93
Heat 10: Seth Moniz (HAW) 13.77 DEF. Owen Wright (AUS) 11.90, Jack Freestone (AUS) 7.43
Heat 11: Ryan Callinan (AUS) 13.17 DEF. Jesse Mendes (BRA) 11.53, Wade Carmichael (AUS) 9.74
Heat 12: Michel Bourez (FRA) 11.13 DEF. Joan Duru (FRA) 10.76, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 7.23

Oi Rio Pro Men’s Elimination Round (Round 2) Matchups:
Heat 1: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Alex Ribeiro (BRA)
Heat 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Mateus Herdy (BRA)
Heat 3: Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Peterson Crisanto (BRA) vs. Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
Heat 4: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Wade Carmichael (AUS) vs. Jack Freestone (AUS)


Cold-Blooded: Princeton-educated VAL shoots dad in the head for surf money!

Fins are expensive, bro.

I sometimes imagine the VAL’s life being glorious, simple and unencumbered. There he is, waltzing into a surf shop then waltzing out with a brand-new _________* under his arm plus two bars of warm-cool wax, a rash guard, pair of Rip Curl Live the Search boardies (which he pronounces “live” as in “I just saw Jack Johnson play live.”) and a pair of Vans surf booties.

There she is sitting around the break room with her colleagues, regaling them with stories of her recent trip to Maui where she paddled out at Big Beach or would have if not for that pesky whitewash.

There is no shame in the VAL, no embarrassment and he can SUP Manhattan Beach day or night, heart filled with joy, not grumpy grouch.

But there must be some darkness hovering therein also because a top, blue-blooded VAL recently shot his father in the head for surf money and would you like to read the compelling beginning to the very tragic story of Thomas Gilbert Jr. in The New York Times? I think we owe it to ourselves.

Five years after he graduated with an economics degree from Princeton, Thomas Gilbert Jr. walked into a Hamptons surf shop and asked if they needed an instructor.

At 29, Mr. Gilbert — who grew up in Manhattan’s elite social circles with wealth and connections — might have been expected to climb to the top of the world of finance, as his father and uncle had done.

Instead, the son of a successful hedge fund founder was surfing, going to exclusive social clubs and living on a $1,000 weekly allowance from his parents.

After three weeks of testimony in Mr. Gilbert’s murder trial, a picture of him has emerged as a perpetual Peter Pan who was increasingly troubled with the idea of losing his real life Neverland.

Mr. Gilbert’s lawyer maintains that mental illness problems are to blame for his client’s seeming inability to hold a steady job. But prosecution witnesses have described Mr. Gilbert as a feckless young man interested mostly in pleasurable pursuits, who was furious with his father for reducing his spending money.

Etc.

The piece goes on to describe how Mr. Gilbert Jr. would buy things from surf shops and take surf trips with his pals. It also details a surf-esque relationship he had with one of the famous Rothschilds.

Mr. Gilbert dabbled with the idea of working at his father’s hedge fund and even spoke of starting his own.

“It seemed to me he didn’t have experience to do that,” said Anna Rothschild, 53, a publicist who dated Mr. Gilbert in 2013. “He didn’t seem to be highly intelligent, in my humble opinion.”

Ms. Rothchild testified that she found Mr. Gilbert “odd,” but continued to date him because “he was very good looking.”

Ms. Ressner said she regularly found evidence that Mr. Gilbert was seeing other women while they shared an apartment: fingerprints on a bedroom mirror, an unexplained box of condoms and even strands of other women’s hair.

“He didn’t bother to clean up when I came back,” she said rolling her eyes. “I did not have self-esteem at the time.”

And do you think this VAL will get off for insanity or do you think he will spend the rest of his days drawing epic tubes on prison issued paper?

Do you worry that other VALs might take a sinister turn into murder?

*What is the VAL’s favorite surfboard these days?


Soz Bailey, backside pistol.

Open Thread: Comment Live, the Oi Rio Pro seeding round!

Barton Lynch calls the surf quality "A QS level event!"

What’s the seeding round? Do you know? I still don’t at all but no matter. Is it like a mini Founders Cup for the start of every contest? Like an extra bonus chance for Barton Lynch to make my heart soar? I don’t know but no matter. Beggars can’t be choosers etc. and it is on right now with Italo Ferreira chewing up the business and…

…oh I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. It is too early and my head is still in the sails.

But are you at work?

Watch here. Chat with friends.

Pour a drink before 11:00 am.

Beat that summertime sadness.

Here’s what we’ve missed…

Heat 1: Kanoa I. beat Jadson A. and Peterson C.

Heat 2: Gabby M. beat Soli B. and Ace B.

Heat 3: Yago D. beat Adriano de S. and Kolohe A.

Heat 4: Filipe T. beat Frederico M. and Seabass Z.

Heat 5: Italo F. beat Deivid Silva and Mateus Herdy became injured.

John John is in the water now. What are you waiting for?

 


Watch: Happy Great White Shark “Stalk” Surfers at dreamy beachbreak!

And should dog owners who break the law be eaten alive by Great Whites?

Is it a male thing? Grown-men piloting remote-control helicopters with cameras?

I have a lovely memory of Bruce Irons, in the Canary Islands, spending hours manoeuvring his little bird around his hotel room from dawn until dawn with scarcely a breath drawn. Oo-ee-oo, that boy has a tremendous capacity for wakefulness.

A consequence of all the drones are the sightings of Great Whites and their “stalking” of surfers, swimmers and so on.

Last week, The Rogue Droner snatched footage of a juvenile Great White shark swimming near surfers at what used to be my favourite beachbreak on the entire east coast of Australia.

“Be aware, the surfers were attempted to be warned a number of times by swooping and hovering close to them and the shark before and during these shots,” writes The Rogue Droner on his YouTube page. “There was also someone on the beach waving at them to warn them. Thankfully all surfers and swimmers were safe.”

A few takeaways, as those institutionalised in offices like to say.

  1. Everyone who surfs the joint knows Forster-Tuncurry is crawling with Great Whites. So, is it a surprise that a shark is swimming in the ocean?
  2. Is swimming near the same as “stalking” which would mean, in that context, stealthily hunting its prey? Is this fish hunting? If it is hunting, why no eat?
  3. Would the world end if a fisherman hooked this fish and dragged it ashore to the delight of children?

And, if you like that show, watch this short film from three days ago titled, White Shark Hunts Dog Owners. 

“Dog owners break local council dog restrictions and they may pay for their mistakes,” writes The Rogue Droner.

Punitive! 

 


Jen See’s Oi Rio Pro preview: “We shall have to enjoy the tingle of suspense together!”

How rare it is, still, to see women athletes come out and say that they want to win. Those cultural pressure to be nice and smile pretty, they don’t disappear so easily.

I deserted you during Margaret River, for which I am sorry! I hate to let you all down like that.

Let’s get caught up now, shall we?

Thursday begins the waiting period for the Oi Rio Pro at Saquarema beach. The whole Oi Rio combination makes my eyes cross, but I will endeavor to persist. According to the Twitter, forecasts suggest the contest will likely start straight away — though, I do not of course know if it’ll be the seeding round for men or women who start the thing off.

Your guess is as good as mine! We shall have to enjoy the tingle of suspense together.

Did you see the letter Caroline Marks wrote to her future self over at ESPN? It’s the kind of strange magazine conceit that works sometimes. Marks comes across as so endearingly exuberant. She dreams of big-wave riding and landing air reverses consistently in heats.

“I hope you were lucky enough to surf for 20 more years, that injuries and insecurities didn’t stand in your way,” she writes to her future self. “I want to be relentless.”

Based on what we’ve seen so far, there’s no reason to expect she won’t be.

Marks is currently second in the world rankings behind Steph Gilmore. At Margaret River, Marks went down in the quarterfinals to Sally Fitzgibbons, but the beachbreak there at Saquarema beach should suit Marks to perfection. For one thing, we might actually get to see her surf frontside. Weird! But also, probably awesome!

Gilmore won Rio last year after beating Lakey Peterson in the final. No, I didn’t remember that one — I had to look it up, and it came as something of a surprise. I would not have put Gilmore as the winner in Rio. Let that be a lesson never to count out a seven-time world champion. They have a knack for winning things. Thanks to a defeat in the quarterfinals at Margaret River, Gilmore could not improve her lead over Marks. At least, not yet. She’ll be hoping to do that in Rio, natch.

“I didn’t want to lose to her again.” That was the highlight of Peterson’s post-heat interview after she beat Gilmore in the quarterfinals at Margaret River. The two women had met in seven heats previously and Gilmore had won each and every one. No more, said Peterson. We can argue about the scoring — because that’s the kind of thing we do around here — but not about the intention. Peterson came out swinging and swung her way through to winning her first event of the year.

How rare it is, still, to see women athletes come out and say that they want to win. So often it’s all wrapped up in smiles and stoked to be here. Those cultural pressure to be nice and smile pretty, they don’t disappear so easily. But there’s not an elite athlete walking the earth who doesn’t want to win all the marbles.

Refreshingly, Peterson just plain came out and said it. Currently sitting sixth, she has a tough grind to climb back up the rankings. But that victory against Gilmore — and an event win on top of it — has to feel damn good.

Carissa Moore has yet to win an event this season, but she also hasn’t finished below the quarters. She’s right there on the edge of it. A win in Rio could transform her into a world title hopeful. A low finish, well, let’s just say, that wouldn’t help. Her semifinal against Peterson at Margaret River was a close-run thing. Currently, Moore sits third in the rankings, just behind the kid-wonder Marks. A win in Rio would allow Moore to overtake her and wouldn’t that add some spice to the proceedings.

Two potential spoilers sit fourth and fifth: Sally Fitzgibbons and Courtney Conlogue. I am fan of Fitzgibbons this season. She looks stronger than in the past, and it’s done so much good for her surfing. She’s made the semi and final in the past two events. After winning Bells, Conlogue’s not made it past the quarters, but I never want to count her out. Like Peterson, Conlogue can bring the fire.

The world rankings remain close on the women’s side and different surfers have won each event. That’s a good recipe for a fun title race. After Rio comes J-Bay and by then we should see more separations begin to open up.

For now, we can pretend that the game is wide open.

Before I go, how about some Olympics: Steph Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons have a solid lead over Nikki Van Dijk for the two Australian slots. On the US side, Marks and Moore hold the top two slots with Conlogue and Peterson trailing behind them. Both Peterson and Conlogue have their work cut out for them, for sure. A big ask, but nothing’s impossible, not really.

Oh hey Rio, let’s watch some surfing.

Oi Rio Pro Women’s Seeding Round (Round 1) Matchups:
Heat 1: Caroline Marks (USA), Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), Macy Callaghan (AUS)
Heat 2: Carissa Moore (HAW), Johanne Defay (FRA), Keely Andrew (AUS)
Heat 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Coco Ho (HAW), Taina Hinckel (BRA)
Heat 4: Lakey Peterson (USA), Brisa Hennessy (CRI), Paige Hareb (NZL)
Heat 5: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA). Silvana Lima (BRA)
Heat 6: Courtney Conlogue (USA), Malia Manuel (HAW), Bronte Macaulay (AUS)